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Leadership

John Schmisseur

John Schmisseur


Executive Director

Schmisseur is the Executive Director at UTSI and a Professor of Aerospace Engineering. As director, Schmisseur sets the overall direction for the institute and serves as a direct connection to the dean of the Tickle College of Engineering in Knoxville. His goals include positioning UTSI as a regional hub for advanced technology, expanding the aerospace and defense industry presence in southern Tennessee, fostering workforce and economic development in the area, strengthening the ties between researchers and students in Tullahoma and Knoxville. Planned areas for expansion of research capabilities include aerospace propulsion, materials for aerospace and defense applications, and advanced optical instrumentation. His research interests center around hypersonics, aerospace engineering, and defense capabilities.

James Simonton

James Simonton


Associate Executive Director

Simonton is the Associate Executive Director at UTSI and an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Tennessee. His current job duties include program academic coordination as well as the Director of Online Education at UTSI. His research interests include project management, systems engineering, operational research, engineering economics, statistical analysis, logistics, lean six-sigma, and quality. His research continues to be involved in alternative energy in the areas of electrical generation, biomass gas to liquids, and utilization of stranded or flared natural gases. Resulting from his work in biomass and natural gas to liquid, he has several patents in alternative energy-related areas.

Bruce LaMattina

Bruce LaMattina


Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs

LaMattina is the Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), an internationally recognized graduate education and research institution located in Middle Tennessee adjacent to the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Complex. Prior to accepting the UTSI appointment he served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Research Initiatives from 2019 to February, 2021 at UT Knoxville.

Before joining the UT family, he served in the same position at The University of North Carolina. LaMattina has more than 25 years of experience spanning academia, government, and corporate research and defense. He is a creative leader with a strong background in strategic planning, resource management, tech transfer, and workforce development that unites partners from diverse backgrounds to form successful teams that advance research and development with maximum impact. He specializes in research and development, proposal development, teaching and advising, program manager, strategic planning, and more. His technical strengths include manufacturing, solid mechanics, composite materials, and computational modeling, and is an author of over 25 journal articles including two book chapters, one edited book, two journal special issues, numerous conference publications, and more than 25 invited talks.

LaMattina earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Carolina and his MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware.